vrijdag 10 mei 2013



The Greeks and Romans often make a mess of it when they try to write down several Phoenician and Punic names to. They had no idea what that language was about.
In this time usually we can find nevertheless the real Phoenician or Punic name, but sometimes it is quite difficult, as in the case of Hamilcar.

... The Greeks mention Amilkhar, Ammilkar or Amilkas.
The Romans mention about Ammicar, Amicar, Admicar, Amilcar or Hamilcar.

Which, in this case Punic, name lies at the root?

In inscriptions we could might encounter:

Hmlqrt hamelqart does not exist
ḥmlqrt ḥamelqart does not exist
’Mlqrt ’amelqart does not exist
‘Mlqrt ‘amelqart does not exist
Most of the name Hamilcar is not a problem, because Milcar lacks only the t and combined that states very clear to Melqart, the city god of Tyre.

The problem is the first letter: a, or two letters: ha. Are there any letters dropped in the Greek and Roman attempts to transpose the name in their own script and language?

After some trying, we seem to have success with the letter n. We find a ḥn-mlqrt = ḥan- melqart in the inscriptions (Benz 125). Unfortunately, the name only occurs a few times and then from the Neo-Punic period, while most Hamilcar's just come forward in the literature in the Punic period. Nevertheless embraces Krahmalkov (Dictionary) this solution resounding.

Anyway we go on searching a bit further. It is striking that in one Roman translation the letter d appears in the name as: Admicar. There must be a reason for. And that brings us to the track of the frequent prefix abd = servant. This prefix is often used in combination with gods names like Abd-Astarte, or Abd-tanit, or Abd-Rešeph, or in this case Abd-Melqart.

‘Bdmlqrt = abdmelqart. This name is very common (see Benz 155-161) and also in many spelling error. We also moreover see that the Greeks and Romans replace the 'difficult' azr or abd by the 'easier' a or ha. Thus the Phoenician or Punic Azrubaal is replaced by Hasdrubal for example in Latin.

Etymologically, Hamilcar is closest near ḥan- milqart, but that actually comes forward much too rare and is also in the Neo-Punic. The combination of the exchange of the ‘bd by only ‘ or ‘h and presence by a large extent in the inscriptions of Abdmelqart (827x) and in the classical texts of Hamilcar, that nevertheless the solution Hamilcar = Abd-Melqart should be chosen, such as the Dictionary of Lipinski does.